Lynchburg Colony

 Across Virginia, thousands of former Lynchburg Colony patients tried to conceive for decades, not knowing that the state had made it so they could not.

At the Colony, patients did some sort of day labor for which they were paid a pittance — $1 a month for chores like mowing grass or painting — and were told they couldn’t leave until they were sterilized. Sometimes, though, when it came time for the procedure, doctors told patients they were having an appendectomy or surgery to help ease “female problems.”

Mary Bishop, a Roanoke Times & World News reporter writing a book about the Virginia victims, said patients were almost always youngsters and teenagers. They ended up at the Colony when frustrated parents dumped them there because they had run away too often or had committed petty crime. Others had become pregnant out of wedlock.

Almost all were poor. Three siblings were placed in the Colony because their mother had died and their alcoholic father neglected them, Bishop said. They grew so hungry at home that they tried to eat bark off trees.

Today the Lynchburg State Colony is the Central Virginia Training Center, with gleaming floors and well-lit corridors, its 300 acres graced with brilliant pink crepe myrtle and verdant clusters of cedars, beech trees and maples.


Buckley, Stephen. 2001. “Human weeds.” St. Petersburg Times. November 11, 2001.
<; accessed November 19, 2007.


~ by Serena on November 19, 2007.

2 Responses to “Lynchburg Colony”

  1. I googled Lynchburg colony to see if I could find info on my brother who was placed in the colony in/about 1952. His name was Walter Shannon. My mother was forced to place him there as he was retarted. He died there in mar. 1960 at the young age of 17, from urine poisening after catherization inside a full leg and hip cast to repair a broken hip. We were told he fell in the shower and broke his hip, though I never believed that to be true. Now I am afraid he was sterilized against his will. If he was, My mother never knew. She died in 1991, never have gotten over his death. I am his younger sister and I was 16 when he died. I am now 65, and to this day I miss him. I recall visiting walter with my mother and siblings, and the sadness of the patients there, as they scrambled to recieve a hug from us, complete strangers. I hated that place.

    • Hi Patricia –

      Thanks so much for your comment! I have been away from the blog for a while and just found your comment when I logged in to finally begin updating the blog with additional resources I have come across. So, unfortunately it seems your comment has sat in the “moderation” file for quite some time – I’m really sorry! I am also very sorry to hear of the heartbreaking experiences your family faced. Please know that I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to share this with me and other readers of this site. Best –


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